Anatto. A small, hard, reddish-brown seed, the fruit of a tropical South American tree, contained in a prickly seed pod. It is widely used in South American cooking. Although edible, it has little flavour and its culinary value is limited to colouring properties. A commercially produced colouring called anatto is used to tint Leicester and Cheshire cheeses, smoked mackerel fillets and kippers. In ancient times these seeds were used for body painting. Seeds can be ground to a powder before mixing with other spices to colour and flavour meat and fish dishes. In Mexico this is most commonly used in Yucatán.